People know the Angel of the North, that scary be-winged man that startles the unsuspecting motorist on his way north, but I’m not sure how many people have made it around Liverpool to Crosby Beach and three kilometres of sculpture.
We took time out on our way to Glasgow to visit the sandy sculpture park – Another Place – and were totally absorbed by it. At first you wonder how they stay in place against the North Sea’s winds and currents. Then you wonder at the corrosion from the saltwater, the surfaces unexpectedly smooth and unflaky – well those that aren’t barnacle encrusted.
And then you see the stylised penises – the sculpture is modelled in Gormley himself – and no longer wonder why they were controversial. I mean, such a lot of fuss about such a tiny thing.
Stopping to see these sculptures wasn’t originally on our itinerary but we were given this lovely book for our 30th – Sculpture Parks and Trails of Britain and Ireland – and our route north became more, well, convex and complex. Here’s another.
If you look closely… if you want to that is.
Neither the Textiliste and I are great drivers – we’d use Floo Powder by preference – so breaking the journey wasn’t a difficult decision.
Here we are therefore in Chester, that most unusual of Roman-cum-Medieval towns. The main streets, Eastgate and Northgate, have what I believe is a unique set up, stemming from its medieval roots with the shops at street level being set a few steps down and with the shops at upper level a few steps up and back (‘The ‘Rows’). I could become a nerdy property lawyer and tell you about the Chester Improvement Act 1845 and why this should be extended to the whole of England and Wales and how this would remove the farce that is the 99 year lease at a stroke – but I won’t (and it probably wouldn’t).
I’ll end with a poem. When I was studying these sculptures my mind turned to some other men and women, trapped in the sand on a North-West beach – the Morecombe Bay Cockle-Pickers. This awful tragedy occurred some seven years after Gormley’s statues were erected which I only found out later.
This is my little tribute to those poor souls.
Sharp shapes stand sentinel
Guards of the horizon
Canutes in iron
Broody? Or dreaming?
No feature reveals their mood.
Just an illusion of calm
As the tides approaches
and laps at their feet.
Inexorable, the flood covers
all, slowly, powerfully
A cry is heard
from Morecombe Bay
floating along the Mersey coast.
Another time, another group
trapped by the self same tides.
Hardly. Frozen by panic, concreted
into their glutinous prison.
The sea is not a muse
but a curse, death, a cruel deceiver.
Finally the surface is still.
Nothing disturbs the calm,
reflective pacific sea,
lapping my shoes.
I still hear cries, now seagulls
and untamed children.
I turn for my car, carefully freeing my feet
with each step.